Monday, July 22, 2013

Brian Francis Heffron – Why Writing is a Form of Personal Therapy

Why Writing is a Form of Personal Therapy

by Brian Francis Heffron

For me this question really hits home. You see, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. I have had it for a long while and it is no fun. It makes it hard to trust people. You sometimes mistake kindness for an attack. It confuses those around you that love you. You are always looking for peril, head on the swivel. Your snake brain is always there in front of you like a filter between you and life. None of these things are good for a calm, serene healthy life….So, I write. I write poems about the pain of PTSD. I explain the way it feels not to trust and to mishear what people say.

And now that I look back on the writing of Colorado Mandala, I see it was a subconscious attempt at self-healing. I wrote the first draft at Emerson College when I was a student their in their prestigious writing program in the 1970s. My writer-in–residence, and instructors, were American treasure the novelist Russell Banks and Viet Nam novelist Tim O’Brien. It seems I took something from both. Ina nay case I would write a chapter and take it in for their review and criticism. I don’t know how I made it all the way through but I did.

Then something happened and I had to get out of Boston right after graduation and so I went to sea as a deckhand delivering sailboats all over the North Atlantic. I left the manuscript with friend and when I returned it more or less slipped my mind as I got married, had a wonderful daughter and built a career as a screenwriter and Television Director/Producer.

Last summer, after years of therapy working on my own PTSD I remembered Colorado Mandala and pulled it out. I had it retyped and began to rewrite it incorporating any and all of the wisdom I may have acquired in the intervening years. Again, self-healing through writing. There is even a branch of science that focuses solely on the use of text as a healing element and it is called “Bibliotherapy”. Colorado Mandala is that. It is a novel that heals. A kind of therapeutic tool that brings the reader into a world he or she recognizes and that soothes.

The idea that my book could actually help other people afflicted with PTSD makes me so happy. And this is what the Psychologists are now saying.

With refreshing depth, distinct literary merit, and highly original poetic phrasings that spill from the pages like paint, Colorado Mandala is poet Brian Heffron’s debut work of literary fiction. It mines the complex landscape of post-Vietnam America to unearth the deep connections that bind individuals together, and also ferociously rip them asunder. Illustrative, luscious, seductive, and engaging, this rare piece of craftsmanship will stir the senses of any one who thirsts for artistic expression, or who longs for an era in our country now utterly, irretrievably gone.

In the heady, hippie backdrop of Pike’s Peak, Colorado, in the tumultuous 1970s, three souls swirl together in an explosive supernova. Michael is the flinty-eyed, volatile former Green Beret, whose tour in Vietnam has left unbridgeable chasms in his psyche and secrets that can never find light. Sarah is his fair-haired paramour, the ethereal Earth Mother widow of a fallen soldier and single mother to a ten-year-old son Stuart. Paul is a young wanderer, who is drawn in by Michael and soon bears the mantle of both minister and scourge. As they are drawn together, and torn apart, each is changed forever. And our hearts race along with them, through the rocky, raw Colorado terrain amidst the blood sport of man and beast.

Laying bare the loss and acceptance of a pioneering age, Colorado Mandala shines revelatory light on the crazy, glorious, and romantic notion that each generation conceives anew: that love can be a spiritual gift shared openly rather than coveted, or hidden, or hoarded. If you wish to go barefoot again and climb an unspoiled Colorado trail, look no further. If you long for something to wake you up in simple, clean language, a shimmering story awaits. Awaken to what you have always known: simple truths show you the way home. With his gripping and unforgettable Colorado Mandala, it is clear that Brian Heffron knows the way.

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – PG

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